+ TVhorsetalk: Stuck in the Saddle

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stuck in the Saddle

               I really need forward movement with my riding.  I’m stuck on cruising at the trot.  I work on cantering.  But it’s really just me trying to stay balanced and not be afraid to keep going at the canter. 
Now I know Clinton Anderson says, “If you want to learn how to stay on at the canter, you have to canter.”  I repeat.  I know that.  I want to canter more.  And I would canter more if I didn’t feel like Max was going to spook every time we got down to the end of the arena and on the north side of the arena.  (That’s using the term “arena” loosely.)
I feel sure he would also say I need to tackle the spook problem I have “straight away.”  I am tackling it, but from the ground right now.  (I have really gained tons of confidence with control on the ground since following CA’s exercises.)  And I realize that I won’t be able to solve all spook problems from the ground.  I won’t even be able to solve all spook problems period.  But I’ll get more confident in handling them when they happen. 
Here are some things I’m doing right now to de-sensitize him to the woodsy area. Clinton Anderson says, “Rest ‘em in a place they don’t like.”  So when Max and I are doing groundwork and it’s time to rest, we rest in the places where he’s most likely to spook. 
And I think we’ve made progress.  But slooooow progress.  When I first started doing this he had a hard time relaxing in those places.  Sometimes it would take a few minutes.  Now, most of the time, he relaxes within several seconds.  I also rest Max up and down those “scary” sides of the arena and in those “scary” corners while I’m riding. 
  And in Max’s defense, he’s not just spooking for no reason.  Thar’s wahld animals in them thar woods!  He does hear things and see things that I just don’t see.

I just want to be able to ride the whole arena without being ready for a bolt 50% of the time I’m riding.  Now I know a horse can spook or bolt at anything, anytime.  And I know that you’re thinking that maybe if I rode him in those spooky areas everyday to de-sensitize him and deal with the problem right now in a direct manner that it would get solved. 
I agree.  That would be ideal. 
But I’m a greenhorn, remember?  I don’t ride that well.  I’m just learning all this stuff.  And I would like to spend the biggest amount of riding time right now learning to stay on while the horse is walking, trotting and cantering around in a non-threatening environment.  I need to keep building confidence. 
How I have the pen situated now seems to bring on some “horse anxiety” in those places close to the woods.  And my body language adds to that.  I get so worried that he’s going to spook that I can’t relax.

Bottom Line:  I want to ride around a little more relaxed for a while.  I need us both to concentrate elsewhere.  I want to work on other control issues right now.  I feel like I need to control the gas pedal and the steering wheel better.  Can’t I come back to that when I can stay on a little better?
That said, I was actually more confident today with the riding part.  I rode him on those two scary sides at a trot.  Rested him on those sides.  Walked up and down those sides.  Then, I took him out in the pasture and trotted him and backed him.  I think I’m okay (confidence-wise) at a walk and trot. 
Max has a fast canter, and that’s where I’m stumped.  And I know, to get a slow canter, you have to canter.  I know.
Sooooo………I think I’m going to move the arena fence.  I don’t know if that sounds like giving up or giving in or what, but that’s what I’m going to do.  If I move the fence (It’s just several 10’ Priefert panels.) then we’ll be at least 50’ feet away from the woods on the north side.  On the east end I’ll have to deal with the woods.  But that’s only 25% of the arena that’ll worry me instead of 50%.  I know I should deal with the spooking issue, but I do deal with it when he does spook. 
I do a one rein stop when he turns to run away from the woods, then I keep him turning or backing or walking around the area.
Now, if he still acts spooky when we’re that far away from the woods, and I can’t get him to get over it, then I’ve got a way bigger problem than I thought. 
With me…

Have a nice ride,


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